Swansea City officially launched their defibrillator programme in memory of local footballer Mitchell Joseph at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday night.
A special training and awareness event, set up in conjunction with Welsh defibrillator charity Cariad, showed members of the public how to use a defibrillator and potentially save someone’s life.
Following the sad death of Mitchell, 33, who passed away after suffering a heart attack during a game at Mynydd Newydd playing fields while playing for Swansea Senior League side St Joseph in January, the Swans pledged to help his family and the wider community.
The club matched the £10,595 raised by his friends and family in a bucket collection before the Premier League game against Liverpool to purchase defibrillators for the main playing fields in the Swansea League and the surrounding communities.
The Swans will also purchase one defibrillator for each scored goal by Carlos Carvalhal’s side for the remainder of the season – a tally which currently stands at 36.
Mitchell’s fiancée Laura Davies attended the event with family and friends, with Swans skipper Angel Rangel and team-mate Connor Roberts also showing their support.
And Laura’s father Anthony Davies, said: “As a family, we know Mitchell would have wanted this.
“Swansea City Football Club have been phenomenal for what they have done for us. This has brought the community of Swansea together, and it shows just how generous and supportive people of this city are.
“It has been quite overwhelming, but the support of everyone has helped us through a tragic time.
“I am a Swans fan and I am thinking of Mitchell every time the team score a goal. Each goal means so much more to us now because of the club’s defibrillator pledge.
“I saw the plaque put up in Mynydd Newydd where the first defib was placed, and I have a lump in my throat every time I see it. He will have a plaque at every pitch where a defibrillator is designated, and that means a lot to us and it would to Mitchell too.”
To date, defibrillators have been placed in the following locations: Mynydd Newydd, Ashlands/Banfields, Ashley Road, Gors Playing Fields, Paradise Park, Meadow View Sports, Cwmbwrla Park, Cwm Level Playing Fields, South Gower (Scurlage), Penygaer Playing Fields (Llanelli), Pontlliw Park, Briton Ferry Llansawel FC and Pontardawe Town FC.
Defibrillators are also due to be positioned soon at Tir Canol Playing Fields, Bonymaen Park, Maesteg Park, Heol Las Park, Murton Playing Fields and Pentrehafod School Playing Fields.
Additional venues are being confirmed on an ongoing basis.
Cariad founder Anthony Hamilton-Shaw gave advice and training during the event to over 100 people.
The charity will provide ongoing maintenance and a 24-hour emergency response service for anyone using the lifesaving units.
He said: “The impact this pledge and event will have in the community and the surrounding areas is massive – it will help save lives.
“We can place defibrillators in community, but we understand there is anxiety and fears surrounding the use of them.
“So this event helped take those fears away, and now a lot more people are comfortable enough to use them.”
Swans skipper Rangel gave his support to the event. He said: “As a club we always want to help the community and we know what a tragedy it was to lose such a wonderful person like Mitchell.
“Goals win you games, but in this case it can help save lives.
“We have nine games left in the Premier League, plus an FA Cup tie, so hopefully we can score a lot of goals to help the teams in the area and the community as a whole.
“If anything like this happens again then hopefully the defibrillators will prevent another tragedy.”
Swans chief operation officer Chris Pearlman underlined the importance of the community to the club.
“We have always considered ourselves to be a community club. The community owns 21 per cent of our club, and this is a great example of how we are trying to give back to such an important cause,” he said.
“Everyone has come together, and we are going to make Swansea a safer place for anyone taking part in sport.
“We hope to host more nights like this in the future to help educate the community on how to use defibrillators.”
Swans defender Roberts, who hails from Crynant, added: “I’ve played football at various levels and I’ve always felt safe on the pitch as physios, doctors and defibrillators are at the games.
“At local level it’s not the same, but the defibrillators, coupled with this event training people how to use them, will ensure our local footballers are just as safe.”